Portsmouth manager Kenny Jackett and forward Jamal Lowe both praised Sunderland goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin after missing out on the League One play-off final.
Pompey were held to a goalless draw by the Black Cats at Fratton Park on Thursday night, a result which saw the Wearsiders go through to the Wembley final, following Chris Maguire's stunning strike in the first leg.
The two sides played out a scrappy affair on the south coast, with little to separate the two sides.
And Jackett, whose side finished fourth in League One with 88 points, was bitterly disappointed after the full-time whistle.
“There were some big saves from McLaughlin in the Sunderland goal, while Clarke has hit the crossbar," Jackett told the Portsmouth website.
“They were key moments in what was a very tight game – and a tight 180 minutes across the whole tie.
"It does hurt, although I’m proud of the players and we’ll have a break, then look to come back stronger next year."
“Maguire has ultimately provided the moment of quality that’s settled things and got Sunderland to Wembley.
“We built up a good head of steam in the first half, but there were only isolated incidents after the break.
Jackett made a big call to leave out top scorer Jamal Lowe and winger Ronan Curtis for the second leg, with the Pompey boss saying his side had lacked energy in recent weeks.
Lowe came off the bench in the second half but couldn't add to his 17 goals this season.
The Pompey forward felt his side deserved to win the game at Fratton Park and also praised the 'impressive' McLaughlin.
“We probably deserved to nick the win on the night and their goalkeeper made some impressive saves," said Lowe. "That proved to be the difference.
"We’ve scored a lot of goals and have battled back to take points on several occasions – we’ve got to bring all that into the next season."
“I think we can look back on the campaign as a whole and be proud of what we’ve done, while trying to better it next time around.
“Everyone will be on the floor for a day or two, but we finished fourth with 88 points and that would be enough to get promoted in plenty of years."